Look what our next-door neighbour gave us, a lovely lockdown lunch. Pizza, humous, gorgonzola, salad all combined with special chili sauce. We gobbled it down, sat in our garden, on a perfect Spring day with the mercury registering a sizzling 25C. How great is that? Thanks Frank, that’s so kind. Almost made me forget what we’re living through.
One thing about C19 is that London life has got significantly smaller and restricted. Social distancing, shielding, self-isolation; everyone now lives a little London life.
We are about to enter our third week of lockdown and so far, the Preen Team are in good health and good spirits. No respiratory complaints; no major fights just living with the new reality. Rusty the dog, who runs on the wolf-pack mentality loves having us all around. Not sure how she’ll cope when we go back to work.
The weather, as mentioned, is now beautiful, which is great, but many are flouting the government’s restrictions on freedom of movement. I went on a bike ride to Battersea Park and the place was mobbed and today I learn that Brockwell Park is closed as 3,000 people visited yesterday.
And talking of freedom of movement, a phrase straight out of the Brexit playbook, it got me thinking that we only seem to deal with a single massive news story these days. We moved effortlessly from Brexit, the great slavering news monster that consumed everything to coronavirus which also won’t allow the squeak of another story to get past it.
Panic buying was the big story two weeks ago, with supermarket shelves apparently stripped by a plague of locusts. This seems to have calmed down somewhat, but it made me realise the power of the supermarkets and the fact that most of the population shop nowhere else. We have a butcher up the road fully stocked with delectable meat products, Andy the fishman still comes all the way from Grimsby on Thursdays and I’ve been toddling up to New Covent Garden to see Alf, Steve and John to get our fruit and veg. No iron rations here.
One bizarre aspect of panic buying is the almost complete absence of flour, particularly bread flour. Imagine my delight on finding it for sale in our local SPA. Gold dust!
Journal of the plague year
I’ve been reading Daniel Defoe’s ‘Journal of the plague year’ and there are spooky resonances. Obviously, what we’re going through now is bad, but during the plagues of the 17th Century somewhere between a third and half of Europe’s population died. A mortality rate off the scale to what we’re facing now.
When it hit, the wealthy escaped to their second homes, sending the country servants back to the city to look after their London houses. Something you can imagine they weren’t too thrilled about. Then there’s isolation. If a member of a household contracted the plague a large red cross was painted on the front door and no one was allowed to leave. Two watchmen (One for the day and one for the night) were posted outside to make sure no one left. Well as you can imagine if you’re closeted with a plague victim then generally the rest of the house contracted it, and everyone died.
Many either bribed their watchman to look the other way or beat the shit out of him and made good their escape. Outside London in places like Walthamstow, then a separate town, they barred those fleeing from London to enter in an effort to halt the spread of the distemper as Defoe calls it. The result was that many died of starvation in the countryside. The rich also holed up in their boats, taking on board massive supplies and not allowing anyone off or on. I haven’t heard this to be true, but you have to imagine there are oligarchs and the like cruising around the Med, with full fridges, living their best lives.
Received wisdom has it that rats spread the plague, no so apparently, it was us. Scientists now believe it was a combination of airborne transmission (droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes) and fleas and lice that lived on humans and their clothes. At the time they thought it was cats and dogs and thousands were killed.
Shutting down the office
Three weeks ago, we packed up our offices in Holborn and all went to work from home. I was one of the last to leave and was chatting with one of the young lads who work with me. He said: “Yeah me and my mates, we call it the Boomer Remover.’ Gulp, did he mean me?